Sunday, August 16, 2015

Far East, Man



I've traveled quite a lot in my life, both for business and for pleasure. Growing up and into my early 20s, I'd gone on several vacations with my parents and siblings to several places here within the US as well as numerous trips to Canada, England, Germany, and Greece. Since that time, I've mainly traveled within the country, mostly to California as Mrs. Chemist has a lot of family out there. I've also made many, many trips for work...San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Charlotte are just some of the cities to which I've made multiple visits each for business. However, now I'm gearing up to go to Asia for the first time in October, which I'm pretty excited about. A research paper of mine was accepted at a technical conference that my company participates in and I was invited to attend and present it in front of an audience of my colleagues. The conference location rotates around the world every year and this year it's in Shanghai, China!

This will be a new experience for me as I've never traveled anywhere before where I've needed a travel visa. I've already gotten my Chinese visa and I booked my flight the other day. I'm a bit worried about the travel part of the trip as I don't tend to do too well on really long flights. I've been to the California and to England several times each and those flights of 5-6 hours are usually my limit. Germany took me 7 hours and Greece took 11 hours, and by the end of both of those flights I was ready to get off of the plane. I think it's a combination of the confined space (which almost makes me feel claustrophobic after a while), the stale air, and the inability to sleep sitting up or (barely) reclined. I've never been able to sleep on my back, only on my side, so I've never been able to do more than doze for ten minutes at a time on airplanes. My upcoming flight to and from Shanghai is going to be around 14 hours each way, which has me worried. However, I'm a bit less concerned than I normally would be because I'll be flying business class each way. Besides the much roomier seats and nicer amenities, the seats in business class recline completely flat and will be long enough for me to stretch out my 6'5" frame so that I can actually get some real sleep. I'm also a little nervous about going to China since culturally it will be unlike anywhere else I've been. I know that they censor the internet there, which I'm bummed about as I was hoping to chronicle my trip in real time and share it with my family and friends back home...that will just have to wait until I get home, I suppose! The upside is that I will be meeting up with a lot of colleagues from work there and I've been told that Shanghai is the most Western and modern city in China. These minor concerns aside, I'm actually getting pretty excited for this trip the closer it gets.

I'll write about it all and share some pictures after I get back, which will be in late October...in the meantime, have any of you ever been to China? I'd love to hear your impressions of it and how you liked it! Please share in the comments below so we can discuss it further...thanks!

4 comments:

  1. have been to Shanghai Drew, which is well worth the visit.
    http://www.travelnravel.com/discuss/entry/shanghaiits-friday

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    1. Ian, right on! I just read your post (gonna comment on it over there)...how did you like Shanghai? Was that the first time you'd been? I'll be on the Pudong side of the river at the hotel/conference center for my conference, but there is a group dinner one of the nights in the Bund so I will be exploring that area a bit. My boss is also going, and he lived in Hong Kong for a few years when he transferred there at his previous company, so he's explored Shanghai a lot more and even speaks the language a bit (which will help!). I'm nervous but excited. How did you find traveling in China as a Westerner?

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  2. Thank goodness you're traveling business class. The seats will be so much better. I can get a pretty great nap in a Lazyboy recliner, which is odd as I don't sleep well on my back either. Just take plenty to read, watch a movie, and you should be fine. Take some notes for the blog.

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    1. That's the main thing I'm looking forward to, actually having leg room! I'm 6'5" and built like an NFL linebacker (ie not tall and slim, but tall and broad shouldered & large/muscular framed) so airplanes are always a chore for me...anything over 6 hours (ie flights to California or London) and I start to really get stiff and sore and uncomfortable. Business class will be amazing. My plan is to take lots of books, movies on the iPad, and yes, taking notes and pictures on the entire trip :)

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